Words and Photos by Greg Jacobs
“Do you realize that everyone you know, someday, will die?” I don’t know how The Flaming Lips can create a sing-along, radio-friendly, pop hit with lyrics like these, but The Flaming Lips have been a mystery and a contradiction since they began in Oklahoma City, OK back in 1983.
A band that have been called alternative rock, acid rock, psychedelic, experimental, noise pop, sell-outs, and Grammy winners, have been around for 38 years doing whatever the f*ck they want. Call them whatever you want; I call them punk rock!
If you have never seen The Flaming Lips perform live, you are missing out, and Thursday night was no exception. Their shows are like a 5-year-old child’s birthday party for adults, complete with costumes, giant video screens, balloons, confetti (LOTS OF CONFETTI), with an underlying creepy factor, like a monster under your bed that never emerges, but you know it’s there—it’s a fun monster.
Admittedly (by singer Wayne Coyne), Thursday night’s show was a little subdued by Flaming Lips’ standards due to COVID concerns, but it was no less amazing. Wayne addressed the concerns throughout the night and spoke highly of vaccines and wearing masks. He sang from inside his clear plastic bubble (which he has been doing even before COVID) or through a mask much of the night.
The musicians had plexiglass partitions between them and the audience that were hardly noticeable but added some protection, I guess. The anticipated release of balloons or beachballs was replaced by extra confetti due to fears of someone sneezing on a beachball and it being bounced from concertgoer to concertgoer and turning the rock show into a super-spreader event. Although, at one point, Wayne emerged with balloon letters forming a giant sign reading “FUCK YEAH COSTA MESA” and threw it into the crowd, where it was absorbed and disappeared.
Thursday’s show was full of hits: “Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Pt 1” (complete with an inflatable giant robot on stage), “She Don’t Use Jelly,” “Race For The Prize,” “Do You Realize,” and featured songs from their 2020 release AMERICAN HEAD like “At The Movies on Quaaludes,” “Mother I’ve Taken LSD,” “Flowers on Neptune 6,” and “Will You Return.”
The Flaming Lips were undeterred by their plexiglass partitions and plastic bubbles and showed that they are one of the best live bands playing today.
I’m sorry to say that I missed the opening band, GREER, and I really wanted to see them. I spoke to a few friends, whose daughter loves Greer, to get their opinions. They both said that they were surprised by them, that Greer was really good, “catchy but not obvious,” and “something I could definitely hear on the radio.” I’m sure I’ll have the opportunity to see them again.